Federal Workers’ Comp Claims for COVID-19
Aumiller Lomax Can Help Federal Employees
The rise of COVID-19 has created a new layer of complexity for workers’ compensation claims. As a federal employee, if you’re exposed and contract the virus on the job, will your employer pay workers’ compensation while you quarantine at home? The answer to this question is somewhat complicated. We’ve compiled a list of the most common questions regarding COVID-19 and workers’ compensation so that you can get the answers you need. Please reach out to us if you need representation or have any additional questions not listed here.
Can I Make a Workers’ Comp Claim if I Contract COVID-19?
The simple answer to this question is yes if you were exposed at work. Workers’ comp benefits will not cover exposures that occurred anywhere else besides your workplace. All federal employees who develop COVID-19 while performing their job duties are entitled to receive workers’ compensation coverage according to the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA). This act was put in place to help support federal workers who were injured on the job or, in the case of COVID-19, contracted a serious illness while fulfilling the requirements of their job.
What Do I Need to File a Claim for Contracting COVID-19?
Like all other workers’ compensation claims, the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) requires you to provide specific documentation with your claim in order to receive benefits. You can’t simply say you contracted COVID-19 and expect to receive compensation. Our team can help you further understand the information you need to make a claim if you’re a federal worker. The two pieces of evidence required to make a COVID-19 FECA claim are:
- Exposure Documentation: Because it can be difficult to determine the precise moment of virus transmission, you will need to provide documentation that you contracted the virus while on the job. Proving this is simple if you work in a high-risk environment, as all you must do is provide documentation that your position is considered high risk. This includes any front-line jobs like medical and public health personnel, as well as federal workers who are required to have in-person and close encounters with the public.
- Medical Documentation: You will be required to provide medical records showing a diagnosis of COVID-19. Along with this, you will need to provide medical evidence that shows your contraction of COVID-19 was aggravated, accelerated, precipitated, or directly caused by your work-related activities.
What Do I Do If My Job Isn’t Considered High Risk?
If you work in a position that isn’t considered high-risk and contract COVID-19 while on the job, there are a few extra steps you must take to receive workers’ comp benefits. Even jobs that aren’t labeled high-risk can still expose you to other individuals that may unknowingly spread the virus to you. As a federal employee, you deserve to receive benefits if you’re exposed on the job. To file a workers’ comp claim for COVID-19 when your job isn’t considered high-risk, you must provide documentation that explains the following:
- The nature of your employment and how it brings you into contact with the virus
- How you were exposed to the virus
- When the exposure most likely occurred
- How long and how frequently you were exposed
- Where and why the exposure occurred
How Does the OWCP Determine If I Contracted COVID-19 at Work?
As previously mentioned, the OWCP requires documentation that you contracted the virus while performing your federal job duties. You may be wondering how the agency determines this. The OWCP will start by looking at all the facts in your case. These facts must show that a factor or requirement of your employment caused your COVID-19 diagnosis for you to receive benefits. Your exposure to the virus must be directly related to some aspect of your work. If your case does not show this, they will likely deny your claim for workers’ comp benefits.
Am I Covered if I Contract COVID-19 While Working Abroad?
In most cases, the answer to this question is yes. However, you will still need to provide the appropriate documentation. In order to receive benefits for contracting COVID-19 abroad, the evidence of your case must show that your exposure to the virus occurred while performing your job duties or that it was reasonably caused by any employment-related travel. When you make a claim of this nature, both you and the federal agency you work for will be required to describe in detail the travel and your potential exposure. You will also still need to provide a positive test result for COVID-19, as well as a medical report from a physician that shows the positive diagnosis resulted from a work-related exposure that occurred while you were performing your job duties.
Am I Covered if I Contract COVID-19 While Commuting to Work?
Your commute to and from work is usually not considered to be a part of your essential job duties. Therefore, if you contract the virus while you travel to work or home from work, you usually aren’t eligible for workers’ compensation benefits since the exposure didn’t occur on the job. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. For example, if your federal job requires you to travel and you contract the virus during a trip, you may be eligible to receive benefits. The same goes for situations where the employer contracts and provides the transportation to and from work.
Does the OWCP Pay for COVID-19 Testing?
If you are concerned you contracted COVID-19 at work and want to make a claim for workers’ comp, you’ll need a positive test to make your case. The OWCP will only pay for your test under certain circumstances. Otherwise, the cost of the test will be your responsibility. You can expect the OWCP to pay for your COVID-19 test if:
- You Were Exposed to a Person with a Confirmed COVID-19 Case: You can have your COVID-19 test covered by the OWCP prior to the acceptance of your case if you are able to prove you were exposed to a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 while on the job.
- You Work in a High-Risk Job: The OWCP will also cover your COVID-19 test before the acceptance of your case if you work in a high-risk environment.
- The OWCP Accepts Your Claim: If you do not meet the circumstances above to have your COVID-19 test paid for before the acceptance of your claim, you will have to pay for the test on your own. However, if the OWCP then accepts your claim, they will pay for the cost of your test through reimbursement.
Can I Receive Benefits If I Contract COVID-19 While on Leave or Vacation?
The short answer to this question is no. Under FECA, you are only eligible to receive compensation if your exposure occurred due to work. You must have been performing your duties as a federal employee when the exposure occurred. Otherwise, the OWCP will not accept your claim.
How Can Aumiller Lomax Help Me in my COVID-19 Claim?
At Aumiller Lomax, we have years of experience handling workers’ comp claims for federal employees. It’s safe to say we have all the knowledge necessary to build a strong claim that will help you in your attempt to receive benefits while you’re unable to work. We have a full understanding of what is required by the OWCP for COVID-19 claims and can help you gather the information you need. If you have been exposed to COVID-19 at work and are working to file a claim, please contact us for assistance. We’re here to help you fight for the compensation you deserve.
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- Over 30 Combined Years Of Experience
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- We Focus on Federal Work Injuries